Two of the last three years, the Red River Valley has enjoyed a spring without significant flooding, which has provided a much-deserved rest for those who fought flood water quite often in recent years. This is a good time to remember that the Fargo-Moorhead (F-M) Area Diversion Project is designed to provide this kind of relief every year from not only the Red River, but also flooding from the Wild Rice, Sheyenne, Maple, Rush, and Lower Rush rivers.
The Valley’s flood threats have become more frequent and significant. In fact, the Red River has exceeded flood stage in 49 of the past 110 years, including every year from 1993 through 2011, and again in 2013. The Diversion Project would nearly eliminate any flood threat to date and would have the capability of fighting the massive 500-year type floods we have seen elsewhere.
With lady luck on their side, residents have been successful at preventing significant damages during past flood events by constructing emergency levees along large portions of the Red River. However, constructing emergency levees takes significant financial and human resources, causes business and traffic disruptions, and is taxing to the social fabric of the communities.
Although the emergency levees have been successful in the past, there is a high risk of a catastrophic failure which could result in catastrophic damages and significant loss of life. Also, the past success of emergency levees has created a false sense of security in some who may not appreciate the risks of flooding.
Significant costs are also incurred during emergency flood fighting efforts. During large flood events, people in Fargo and Moorhead build as many as 80 miles of emergency levees through town in an effort to retain flood waters. Businesses, residents, federal agencies, local and state governments, as well as humanitarian organizations such as the Red Cross and Salvation Army all contribute to the flood fight, rescue and clean-up efforts.
We hope you enjoy this year’s floodless spring, and that you remain assured the Diversion Authority is working to make these floodless conditions the norm in the Fargo-Moorhead area.